Twitter 101

New to tweeting? Here's what you need to know...

 Twitter 101

To start with, download a twitter client -- software that lets you read and update from your desktop rather than having to visit the website every time. TweetDeck is a good one, and there are more at https://twitter.com/downloads

Bear in mind that anyone at all can see your updates. They don't even have to be on Twitter, let alone following you. If you want to change this, you can protect your updates. Then only people following you can see them, and you have to approve new followers before they get to see your updates.

If you want to find new people to follow, look at who other people follow. Don't feel obliged to follow people back. Some people get upset about this. They are usually the same people who will moan about you protecting your updates. Ignore them.

Turn off email updates for new tweets or it will drive you insane. Lots of people have automated things show up in their twitter feed using a site called Twitterfeed. For example I have mine set up to post a link to Twitter when I save something on delicious or listen to something on blip.fm. Others automatically post links to their latest blog posts.

Don't feel you have to follow more than you can keep up with, or that you have to keep up with all the people you follow. You'll miss lots of stuff, be comfortable with it. It's more a snapshot of what's going on now.

If you put @ before someone's username it will be flagged as a reply to them, and will usually link to their profile too in most twitter clients If you put d before someone's username you can send them a direct message. this doesn't show up in your feed but instead you get an alert in your email. You can only do this if you both follow one another.

'RT' is a convention that means 'retweet': put it at the beginning when you forward someone else's tweet that you like.

URL-shortening services like TinyURL, is.gd and bit.ly are very popular for sharing links, for obvious reasons (140-character limit).